Adolescent Tinnitus At Crisis Levels Experts Report
Adolescent Tinnitus And Hearing Loss Infographic
Excessive exposure to loud music, via headphones, mobile devices and live music venues, may be associated with an alarming level of adolescent tinnitus among adolescents, according to recent research in Scientific Reports.
“The levels of sound exposure that are quite commonplace in our environment, particularly among youth, appear to be sufficient to produce hidden cochlear injuries,”
Larry E. Roberts, PhD, of the department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University, said in a press release.
“It’s a growing problem, and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”
Roberts and other researchers studied a cohort of 170 adolescents (61.1% boys) aged 11 to 17 years in Brazil. Study participants were administered a survey related to prior instances of tinnitus, exposure to risky listening habits and sensitivity to ordinary sounds. The researchers also gathered psychoacoustic measurements by testing study participants in a sound booth.
Study results showed that 54.7% of participants reported experiencing tinnitus, while 28.8% displayed measurements of persistent tinnitus in the sound booth. The investigators noted that the measurements of tinnitus recorded in the sound booth were consistent with adult chronic tinnitus.
They also found that risky listening habits were nearly universal within the study cohort. Among participants who experienced both tinnitus and loudness discomfort levels, 95.6% reported use of earbuds or earphones, 89.1% reported attending loud music venues, and 95.6% reported use of mobile phones for listening purposes.
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“Exposure to high levels of recreational sound appears to be increasing among children and adolescents and is a likely factor contributing to an increasing incidence of hearing loss which has been reported in Western industrialized countries,” Roberts and colleagues wrote. “Longitudinal studies involving cohorts such as those examined here will be needed to evaluate risks to future hearing health posed by tinnitus and reduced sound level tolerance experienced in adolescence.”
Vicki Michelle on how she’s learning to tune out her tinnitus
The ‘Allo ‘Allo actress talks about the impact tinnitus had on her life and how acting has helped.
She found fame as sexy waitress Yvette in Eighties comedy, ‘Allo ‘Allo, but today Vicki Michelle’s passion for performing is even more intense because it provides the only respite from a distressing condition.
The glamorous 65-year-old actress – known for a host of appearances on TV including Emmerdale, Celebrity Masterchef and in 2014 toughing it out in the jungle in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! – reveals for the first time the distress she’s suffering because of tinnitus.
It’s often described as “ringing in the ears” although sounds people hear vary and include whistling, humming, grinding or hissing.
“I continually hear an incessant, loud ‘white noise’ sound in my ears – a bit like the buzzing noise a television or radio makes when there’s interference or its badly tuned. Depressingly, it seems to be getting louder as time goes on,” explains Essex-born Michelle, who’s had the problem for nine months.
“Every couple of days I also experience a sudden high-pitched howling noise which lasts around a minute and is loud enough to wake me when I’m asleep. I then struggle to drop off again.
“The problem is debilitating and torture at times because it’s so distracting. In desperation, I sometimes put my hands over my ears and say, ‘Please God, stop!’. Although I’ve always been known for being full of energy, months of disturbed nights have really sapped me.”
Michelle, who’s currently touring in comedy play, The Naked Truth, with her actress daughter, Louise, 27, says: “The only time I seem able to literally ‘tune out’ and get away from it is when I’m performing. It’s such a huge relief to be able to do that and I think my actor’s instincts – the show must go on attitude – just over-rides the problem.”
Tinnitus is common with most people experiencing an occasional episode after a loud concert or disco, while one in 10 people have it mildly.
However, one in 100 people endure severe persistent tinnitus, which adversely affects the quality of their life. In many cases, the cause of the symptom – which affects the nerve pathway between the ear and the brain – is unknown, but it can develop after experiencing excessive noise levels over a period, following a head or ear injury, as a result of taking certain medications, or accompanying age-related hearing loss.
“I can definitely say it’s affected my life – it’s reduced me to tears on occasions in private. I’m a hugely positive, optimistic person though and I’m 100% determined that this isn’t going to beat me.
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Listen very carefully
“I’m just hoping one day I’ll wake up and it will have disappeared – although that’s looking increasingly unlikely – or someone will invent a successful treatment,” says this warm, vivacious woman, who says fans still approach her and ask her to reprise Yvette Carte-Blanche’s famous catchphrase from ‘Allo ‘Allo: “Listen very carefully… I shall say this only once” and “oooh Rene”.
“I’ve always looked after my hearing and never exposed myself to loud noise or listened to music on headphones. As a performer, I knew how important it was to preserve my hearing,” says Michelle, who was awarded an MBE in 2010 for her services to charity.
“Unfortunately the problem isn’t confined to the constant buzzing. I’ve also become much more sensitive to loud noise and have problems with the way I perceive the location of an outside noise.
“I may think it’s coming from the left of me and it will turn out to be the right, which is disorientating. It makes me a bit nervous sometimes when I’m out and especially when crossing roads.”
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Have You Ever Thought About How Hearing Loss Impacts in Older Adults?
More than 33 percent of older Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss. And 50 percent of those 75 and up suffer from some level of deafness, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communications Disorders (NIDCD).
Sadly, most hearing loss goes untreated.
Six of 10 people with moderate-to-severe hearing loss do not use hearing aids, says James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging and founder of the United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC), a nonprofit consumer organization. “I can guarantee you, as a person with a moderate to severe loss, that there is no way that you are doing fine and getting along fine if that hearing loss is not treated,” he explains.
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But what exactly are the effects of hearing loss on older adults?
- Hearing loss can impact personal relationships, physical health, and a person’s overall quality of life.
- Hearing Loss Can Lead to Lower Quality Relationships
A number of studies have shown that hearing loss can negatively impact personal relationships. Older adults with hearing loss may withdraw from conversations because they can’t understand what is being said, or they might talk more to compensate for their inability to hear. It can cause them to monopolize conversations without truly interacting with others.
In one study of 4,000 people with hearing difficulties, those who didn’t wear hearing aids were “more likely to be viewed as being confused, disoriented, non-caring, arrogant, [and] inattentive” by family members and loved ones.
- Additionally, the same study discovered that “interpersonal warmth in relationships significantly declined as hearing loss worsened.”
While these side effects may not directly affect an older adult’s independence, they can lead to depression. We now know depression can worsen other illnesses or even lead to new problems, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Ultimately, these illnesses can reduce a person’s ability to live independently.
- Hearing Loss Can Put Older Adults in Danger
But it’s not just an older adult’s mental well-being that can suffer. Seniors with untreated hearing loss can put themselves in physical danger if they:
- Fail to hear a doctor’s instructions properly and don’t take the right dose of prescription medicine
- Can’t hear a smoke detector go off
- Don’t hear someone knocking at the door or even hear an intruder in the house at night
- Are driving and don’t hear another driver honk the horn
- Are walking and fail to take note of oncoming traffic
How Hearing Loss Affects Quality of Life
An older adult who can’t be trusted to take the correct medicine, cannot drive safely, or finds it hard to socialize with groups of people risks a lower quality of life and loss of independence.
Hearing loss can create a cascading effect that leads to other health issues but, even on its own, it puts seniors at risk in their own homes and while traveling.
Fortunately, in many cases the use of a hearing aid can restore the quality of life and the ability to live independently.
Noise Hazard Alert Information
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Each year approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to noise loud enough to damage their hearing.
Through the appropriate use of personal protective equipment such as hearing protection, separating workers from noisy equipment or processes as much as possible and by implementing “buy quiet” programs, employers can reduce the risk of hearing loss for workers.
As part of the effort to raise awareness of noise hazards and steps contractors can take to protect their employees from job-related noise induced hearing loss, the OSHA-NIOSH-CPWR r2p Working Group developed a new series of infographics. These infographics aim to raise awareness of the risk, offer steps to prevent hearing loss and raise awareness about NIOSH’s Buy Quiet resources. Built off of the NIOSH Buy Quiet video and data in the Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Construction Chart Book, the infographics reinforce the message that hearing loss can be prevented.
CPWR offers for public download both a noise hazard alert and a toolbox talk on noise hazards, (and you can order the hazard alert in printed brochure format at no charge).
Do You Know What Causes Your Ears To Ring? Read on…
Tinnitus (pronounced tih-NITE-us or TIN-ih-tus) is the name for hearing a sound that is not physically present in the environment. Some researchers have also described tinnitus as a “phantom auditory perception.” People with tinnitus most often describe it as ringing, buzzing, cricket sounds, humming, and whooshing, although many other descriptions have been used. To hear some sound samples access the American Tinnitus Association website, where they have put together files of different manifestations of tinnitus to listen to for education purposes.
Tinnitus is quite common; as many as 30 million Americans have the condition. Of this 30 million, 20% report to be disabled by it. An audiologist may test two people who report identical loudness and frequency of tinnitus yet one person suffers from it and the other barely notices it. Tinnitus is believed to be caused by inner ear cell damage. Cilia in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers these cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.
The important thing to remember about tinnitus is that the brain’s response to these random electrical signals determines whether or not a person is annoyed by their tinnitus or not. Magnetoencephalography (MEG, for short) studies have been used to study tinnitus and the brain.
MEG takes advantage of the fact that every time neurons send each other signals, their electric current creates a tiny magnetic field. MEG allows scientists to detect such changing patterns of activity in the brain 100 times per second. These studies indicated tinnitus affects the entire brain and helps with understanding why certain therapies are more effective than others.
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Common Causes of Ears To Ring Tinnitus:
- Noise exposure. Exposure to loud noises can damage the outer hair cells, which are part of the inner ear. These hair cells do not grow back once they are damaged. Even short exposure to very loud sounds, such as gunfire, can be damaging to the ears and cause permanent hearing loss. Long periods of exposure to moderately loud sounds, such as factory noise or music played through earphones, can result in just as much damage to the inner ear, with permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Listening to moderately loud sounds for hours at a young age carries a high risk of developing hearing loss and tinnitus later in life.
- Medication. Some medications are known to be ototoxic while others list tinnitus as a side effect without causing permanent damage to the ear structures. New medications come out so often that it is difficult to maintain an up to date listing; another option, if you are experiencing tinnitus and are curious if it could be your medication, is to talk to your pharmacist or look up your specific prescriptions online through a website. You should never stop a medication without consulting with your physician, even if you think it may be contributing to your tinnitus.
- Age-related hearing loss.
- Earwax blocking the ear canal. When too much earwax accumulates, it becomes too hard to wash away naturally, causing hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum, which can lead to tinnitus.
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Tinnitus is a term used to describe a ringing noise, buzzing, or perhaps chirping noises in the ears, even when there is no sound present in the environment.
If this applies to you, you are not alone. In fact, it has been estimated that a minimum of 50 million individuals in the United States are affected by some form of tinnitus.
There are a number of factors that can trigger the onset of tinnitus, but damage to the tiny sensory cells located in the inner ear is a common cause. Such damage is often the result of exposure to loud noise or music, and degeneration of the sensory cells is also an unfortunate consequence of the aging process.
Tinnitus has additionally been linked to ear infections, high blood pressure, excessive use of aspirin, treatment with certain antibiotics, consuming large amounts of caffeine and/or alcohol, and even smoking.
Finally, tinnitus can be a symptom of a more serious health issue, and one should be evaluated by a physician to insure a specific medical problem is not present.
Once such medical causes have been ruled out, treatment options are available.
If hearing loss is present, oftentimes simply providing appropriate amplification of sound through the use of hearing aids will result in tinnitus relief.
Recent research suggests when hearing loss is present, the brain creates its own sound to replace what is missing due to hearing impairment. Properly programmed hearing aids can result in sound stimulation, so the brain does not focus as much on the tinnitus.
Sound stimulation can also be achieved through the use of sound therapy, or tinnitus masking, which can take the form of environmental sounds, music, or certain types of noise.
Most of the major hearing aid manufacturers have begun to include noise generators within their hearing aids that can be activated by an audiologist or other hearing health care individual who has been trained in tinnitus management.
Masking noises can be used to decrease the stress often associated with severe tinnitus and are effective in helping people direct their focus away from their tinnitus in quiet or silent environments.
Such sound therapy in combination with stress reduction exercises and educational counseling provide a comprehensive approach to effective tinnitus management.
If you are one of the 50 million persons affected adversely by tinnitus and wish to calm the “ringing beast,” your first step is to seek out a hearing health care practice trained in tinnitus management.
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A professional assessment will be carried out which should include an audiologic evaluation (hearing test), completion of tinnitus questionnaires — measurement of tinnitus pitch, loudness, and other factors — as well as educational counseling and the possible demonstration of hearing aids and tinnitus masking devices.
Based on this comprehensive assessment, a program and recommendations can be developed to meet your specific needs.
There is hope for tinnitus relief, if you are willing to explore available options.